Matt L'Huillier talks slowly. His disappointment is evident, his words carefully chosen.
When the Black Sticks men's team for the Olympics was read out this week, former Nelsonian L'Huillier's name was missing, as was that of fellow defender Blair Tarrant.
They had been part of a successful team for the last six months, only for their lives to be turned upside down at final selection time.
L'Huillier was told beforehand he had missed the cut, but not the reasoning. He is 24 and will get another shot, but that doesn't wash with him.
"Either you were going or you were not, that was the extent of the phonecall," L'Huillier said.
"I will be looking for some feedback. I'm pretty gutted."
The Wellington defender sensed he was on the outer when he returned home from the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia 10 days ago. The Black Sticks won but L'Huillier stayed in his tracksuit for the final.
Of concern to him was 18 players had gone to Malaysia but only 16 were going to London and sitting back home resting were selection certainties Steven Edwards and Blair Hopping.
"The funny thing is, I wouldn't say it was form," L'Huillier said.
"I was really happy with the way I played in Malaysia.
"The reason I got worried was when I didn't play the final. When he [coach Shane McLeod] said I wasn't playing I thought `You play your strongest team in a final'.
"I'd thought I'd been playing reasonably well, well, well enough, any how."
L'Huillier has another string to his bow, his drag flick ability at penalty corner time. However, the Black Sticks are blessed with so many flick options he became dispensable.
L'Huillier will turn out for Wellington in the national league before heading over to the Netherlands to play professionally in Utrecht.
- © Fairfax NZ News